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Mr. Wilson's Cabinet of Wonder: Pronged Ants, Horned Humans, Mice on Toast, and Other Marvels of Jurassic Technology

Overview

Pronged ants, horned humans, a landscape carved on a fruit pit—some of the displays in David Wilson's Museum of Jurassic Technology are hoaxes. But which ones? As he guides readers through an intellectual hall of mirrors, Lawrence Weschler revisits the 16th-century "wonder cabinets" that were the first museums and compels readers to examine the imaginative origins of both art and science. Illustrations.

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Mr. Wilson's Cabinet Of Wonder: Pronged Ants, Horned Humans, Mice on Toast, and Other Marvels of Jurassic Techno logy

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Overview

Pronged ants, horned humans, a landscape carved on a fruit pit—some of the displays in David Wilson's Museum of Jurassic Technology are hoaxes. But which ones? As he guides readers through an intellectual hall of mirrors, Lawrence Weschler revisits the 16th-century "wonder cabinets" that were the first museums and compels readers to examine the imaginative origins of both art and science. Illustrations.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
As in previous books such as Shapinsky's Karma, Boggs's Bills and Other True-Life Tales, Weschler, a staff writer for the New Yorker, explores with detail and delight some knotty questions of culture and trickery. The first half of the book is an expanded version of an article he wrote for Harper's and ruminates about the little-known Museum of Jurassic Technology in Los Angeles, querying its elfin, straight-faced founder/proprietor, David Wilson, and tracking the detailed yet mainly bogus tales behind Wilson's elaborate sham artifacts. Such adventures lead Weschler to muse on the nature of museums and of wonder, and, in the book's second half, to recount the further investigations spurred by readers' letters. The impulse to inventory oddities, he observes, dates back to Europeans' wonderment at the New World. Wilson, he concludes, has tapped ``into the premodern wellsprings of the postmodern temper.'' Slight, but memorable. Illustrations. (Oct.)
Library Journal
You have to search for the Museum of Jurassic Technology, a small storefront operation located on Los Angeles's less than noteworthy Venice Boulevard. Despite its awkward location, this quirky museum now has a cult following, and Weschler, a staff writer for the New Yorker, attempts to explain why. The driving force behind this nondescript institution is the accordian playing, filmmaking, computer wiz David Wilson, a man whose imagination rivals that of George Lucas. His bizarre exhibits feature spore-inhaling ants, peach-pit carvings, sculpture so small it fits into the eye of a needle, and a horn that once sprouted from the head of an English midwife. Weschler's research indicates several stretches of the truth in Wilson's exhibits, but most contain some modicum of authenticity. Weschler's journalistic style enhances this monograph's odd subject, and this slim volume will no doubt be enjoyed by the same fringe element that is making Wilson a cult hero in the museum world. Recommended where interest warrants.-Jonathan Jeffrey, Western Kentucky Univ., Bowling Green
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780679764892
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 11/28/1996
  • Edition description: First Vintage Books Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 192
  • Sales rank: 247,048
  • Product dimensions: 5.20 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 0.52 (d)

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